Klitschko simply dominant
LAS VEGAS -- If Danny Williams had proven one thing with his upset knockout of Mike Tyson earlier this year, it was that he's one tough so-and-so.
But toughness alone was not enough to stay in with WBC heayvweight champ Vitali Klitschko, who beat down and battered the game but outclassed challenger from Britain to retain his title with an eighth-round stoppage in front of a charged international crowd at the Mandalay Bay.
Klitschko, who improved to 35-2 (34 knockouts), dropped Williams in rounds one, three, seven and eight, and was in control throughout the one-sided but entertaining bout. At the time of referee Jay Nady's merciful stoppage at 1:26 of the eighth round, Williams, who dropped to 32-4 (27), was down by 10 points on two of the official scorecards, 11 points on the third.
Williams, who has said that his heroes in boxing are the "Old-School" fighters because of their toughness showed Golden Age-era heart by getting up from each of his knockdowns, but he did not appear to have a game plan beyond allowing Klitschko to pound him flush with every punch thrown.
If Williams hoped that Klitschko would tire out from delivering the brutal butt-kicking, that plan backfired big time, and his face (which was badly swollen and lacerated) and brain suffered for it. Klitschko landed 66 percent of the 283 power punches (mainly right crosses and uppercuts) he threw; 47 percent of his 519 total punches (which included 99 hard jabs), according to CompuBox punchstats.
The Lamon Brewster-school of boxing -- where you allow your opponent to beat you senseless until they punch themselves out -- may work against Klitschko's younger brother Wladimir, but it didn't work against the WBC champ. Vitali Klitschko may have the best chin in the heavyweight division, and on top of that, the 6-foot-7 giant has an understanding of distance, knows how to pace himself and, when it's all said and done, the Ukrainian is pretty damn tough himself.
"It was a lot more awkward that I thought it would be," Williams said afterward. "He's a lot harder to hit when you're in there with him than he appears on TV."
Williams, on the other hand, was as easy to hit as a heavybag. After being dropped at the end of the first round, Williams' received a nasty cut on his right eyelid, which made it even easier for Klitschko to hit him as the rounds continued.
"He doesn't hit as hard as Mike Tyson, but he's more consistent," said Williams, who learned that the faded 5-foot-10 former champ was much easier to fight than the much taller boxer from Ukraine.
While Williams could only land single jabs and left hooks to the body (as well as a few low blows), Klitschko kept his composure, kept Williams at the end of his punches, and landed hard combinations in every round. Somehow, the game Brixton fighter -- his right eye nearly swollen shut and his face a bloody mess -- got up from each knockdown.
"I kept fighting because this was for the heavywieght championship of the world," Williams said. "I tried my best but he was just too good for me."
And too smart.
With the win, Klitschko -- who is regarded as the "real" heavyweight champ by The Ring magazine and most of the boxing press and fans -- inched closer to gaining universal recognition as the "The Man" in the heavyweight division.
Williams was wild, but unlike Klitschko's recent opponents, the massive Brit was young, motivated and in good shape. But it wasn't enough.
Toughness without a plan is a recipe for a beating against Klitschko.
In the co-featured bout of the K2/Top Rank-promoted card, WBO junior welterweight titlist Miguel Cotto improved to 22-0 (18) with an impressive sixth-round stoppage of former title holder Randall Bailey, who was outboxed and outpunched by the rising Puerto Rican star. Cotto, who dropped Bailey in the second and third rounds, landed 24 power shots in the sixth round to prompt the hard-punching Floridian to call it quits at 1:39 of the sixth.
Bailey, who dropped to 28-5 (27) and had a good first round (ending it by landing two hard rights to the top of Cotto's head), was completely out-classed in the following rounds. Cotto pressured Bailey in the second round, nailing the veteran with crisp combinations before dropping Bailey to his hands and knees with a right hand. In the third round, Cotto used his legs to lure Bailey into hard three-and-four-punch combinations before hurting him with a left hook to the ribcage and landing an uppercut that cut the veteran's left eye and forced him to take a knee.
In rounds three, four and five, Cotto controlled the action with hard jabs, nice footwork and accurate body work.
"We knew he didn't take it too good to the body," Cotto said of Bailey after the fight. "We knew to take it to his body and we did.
The win against Bailey caps off an excellent year for the Puerto Rican, who also defeated Victoriano Sosa, Lovemore Ndou and Kelson Pinto in 2004. Cotto looks ready for the elite fighters in the 140-pound division, which include Kostya Tszyu, Floyd Mayweather, Arturo Gatti and Vivian Harris.
"We are working toward 2005 being a good year," Cotto said.
Comebacking Carlos Navarro overpowered and bludgeoned game and crafty former WBO 122-pound titlist Agapito Sanchez to an 11th-round mercy stoppage to improve to 26-3-1 (21) and pick up the WBC Continental Americas 130-pound title. Sanchez, who absorbed a brutal beating in rounds five through eight, rallied in the late rounds despite a severely lacerated face and even managed to mark up Navarro's face before a straight left and follow-up volley forced referee Richard Steele to step in at the 1:57 mark of the 11th. Sanchez, who was never off of his feet, dropped to 35-10-2 (18).
In the opening bout of the HBO PPV-televised card, former IBF 130-pound titlist Carlos Hernandez improved to 45-4-1 (24) with a hard-fought, bloody 10-round split decision over Juan Carlos Ramirez. Hernandez, whose right eye bled throughout the brawl from an accidental headbutt in the second round, won by socres of 95-94 (Robert Hoyle) and 96-93 (Chuck Giampa). (Judge Paul Smith -- one of the three judge who thought Oscar De La Hoya beat Felix Sturm -- scored the bout 96-94 for Ramirez, who showed his usual courage and toughness, but was the clear loser in the entertaining bout.) Ramirez, who dropped to 34-7 (14), was badly staggered in the fourth round and dropped in the eighth.